Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Most Weapons NOT Missing in Iraq

Okay, not a really great headline -- certainly not as good as the NPR is running on its story about weapons supplied to the Iraqi government by the U.S.: Thousands of U.S.-Bought Weapons Lost in Iraq.

The story posted on their Web site details that about the "missing" weapons, noting that only about 10,000 of the weapons -- primarily pistols, rifles and machineguns -- were registered by serial number. The U.S. has supplied about $133-million-worth of weapons to the Iraqis.

But what the story doesn't say, but Special Inspector Stuart Bowen (who conducted the audit) DID say in an on-air interview with NPR, was that only about 4 percent of the weapons are actually unaccounted for.

Don't look for that interview on their Web site, btw -- it's not there. I happened to hear it on the ride home from work last night and immediately noted the disparity between what Bowen said and what NPR was reporting.

Hmm, interesting.

You'd think there was an election coming up or something.

NYT: Fewer Dead Trees

Circulation at daily U.S. newspapers continues to slide, says the NY Times, down another 2.8 percent over the last six months and the steepest decline in 15 years.

The LA Times lost a whopping 8 percent daily and 6 percent on Sundays, the Boston Globe was down 6.7 percent daily and a holey socks! 10 percent Sundays. And the NY Times itself dipped 3.5 percent daily and Sunday.

Why? One word: trust.

People don't buy and read something they don't trust, and trust of the mainstream media continues to erode.

One could make the case that the Internet is eating into the circulation for the deadtree editions, but most newspapers haven't really figured out how to capitalize that and move eyeballs from the hardcopy to the screen copy.

And with the loss of eyeballs go the ad revenues.

Perhaps if these fine papers went back to, oh I don't know, reporting the news instead of attempting to fix elections they trust factor would go up.

Monday, October 30, 2006


The ACLU has dropped its federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Patriot Act, AP reports.

Okay, okay, here's my imitation of the ACLU:

The Patriot Act is a wholly unconsitutional attempt by the Bush administration to undermine the fundamental liberties of every American. If this is allowed to stand, the rights of everyone will be abridged. No one will be safe, no one will be beyond the reach of the JACK-BOOTED THUGS WHO WILL KICK IN YOUR DOORS, DRAG YOU INTO THE STREET BY YOUR HAIR AND FROGMARCH YOU OFF TO CONCENTRATION CAMPS. MY GOD, THERE'S NO ESCAPE FROM THEM -- THEY'RE EVERYWHERE! BOLT THE DOORS, HIDE CHILDREN, GET THE GUNS ( Oh crap, that's right -- we don't HAVE any guns!), GET THE...wait...oh...um....never mind.

"While the reauthorized Patriot Act is far from perfect, we succeeded in stemming the damage from some of the Bush administration's most reckless policies," Ann Beeson, the New York-based associate legal director of the ACLU, said in a written statement.

"I'm a complete idiot," she added. (Not really)

And the best time for such announcement -- less than a week from the mid-term elections. One less thing for Democratic candidates to whip up hysteria about.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Danger of High Expectations

The wave is coming, says the Washington Post -- echoing the numerous stories appearing in the media in recent weeks about how the Democrats are on the verge of sweeping Republican incumbents from office and taking control of a least one house of Congress.

"This is going to be a wave year," said Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia in the Wash Post story. "The only question is whether it will be medium-size wave or a high wave for the Democrats."

So there's the prediction. But here's the question: what if he's wrong?

What if he and all the other political pundits -- as well as the news media -- are wrong and the wave doesn't materialize? They've been wrong before, with some frequency and regularity.

And there is the danger for the Democrats, riding high on the fumes of their own overheated rhetoric, stoked by the predictions of the analysts.

If they win, the best they can hope for is to stalemate the Bush adminstration for the next two years. They won't have the votes to push through anything on their agenda. So they'll go into the 2008 election as the party of obstruction and partisanship.

If they lose, I'd suggest that one of two things could happen.

They could end up losing not only this year's mid-term Congressional elections, but possibly the 2008 presidential election as well -- thrown back into the continuing disarray and denial that has plagued them for the past six years. Held in the thrall of the leftwing extremists who dominate their party.

Or, they could take stock. Suck it up. Fire Howard Dean as party chairman. Move the party back to the center and seek candidates more aligned with most Americans, who stand a little right of center these days. In other words, candidates who actually stand a chance of winning in 2008.

That's what they could do. I've long since given up predicting what they will do, although I'd say scenario #1 is the better bet.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Lamentable Lamont Lags Lieberman

You can almost smell the desperation.

The current Quinnipiac poll showing Ned Lamont lagging behind incument Joe Lieberman by 17 points, the AP reports.

Despite the desperate spending spree by Lamont -- who has poured more than $10 million of his own money into the race -- it seems most unlikely that he can make up the ground lost to Lieberman.

I don't normally put too much stock in polls until: a. within a month of the election; and b. when spread is more than double the margin of error. Both now apply.

My what a difference a couple months make. When Lamont beat Lieberman in the primary by a scant 4 percent of the vote, it was hailed as the bellwether race for the nation. This was the one to watch -- the antiwar forces were mad as hell and poised to take over Congress.

While incumbent candidates who supported the war and the president -- primarily Republicans -- continue to struggle in many races, it is far from a sure thing that they'll be defeated now.

And if this is the race to watch, well, it doesn't bode well for the challengers. I mean if a 4 percent victory was such a resounding victory, what's a 17-percent margin?

Perhaps Connectcutians are seeing Lamont for what he is -- a one-note candidate who sings off key. A liberal nag who criticizes his opponent, but has no solutions of his own. An antiwar wag who thinks retreat and cowardice will keep us safe.

Ultimately, to borrow a phrase from Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, just another dim dilettante trying to buy, marry or luck his way into office.

AP reports in the same story that Lamont has called on Senator John Kerry -- you know, the loser of the last presidential election -- to come stump for him.

Desperation indeed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

More Reid Sleaze

Sleazy land deals. Free boxing tickets.

Why, it's the kind of thing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid normally rails against.

But the Atlanta Journal-Consitution notes Reids involvement in a sleazy land deal that scored Reid a pile of money he failed to disclose.

It also says he interceded in another deal for friends to procure a public right-of-way for a land deal they were working on.

And then there were the free boxing tickets he received while considering legislation on the sport.

You know the kind of things he normally chastizes Republicans for.

"Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid would be well advised to stop thundering about corruption in the Republican ranks or crying "cover-up" over the GOP's failure to promptly and appropriately deal with former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and his sexually explicit e-mails to congressional pages. Reid faces too many questions about his own behavior to crusade against the misdeeds of others," says the AJC.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Johns Hopkins Doctors Iraq Casualty Report

Media reporting that British medical publication The Lancet has published a report by Johns Hopkins University claiming that more than 600,000 Iraqis have died since the Allied invasion in 2003 -- a stupefyingly large number far bigger than anything anyone else has suggested.

The report is built largely on estimates and interviews with about 13,000 Iraqis -- they then projected the data over the entire nation to come up with their total.

In other words, they guessed.

This number is so high, it defies gravity. Brookings Institution Scholar Michael O'Hanlon called it "preposterously high."

The decidedly antiwar group Iraq Body Count, for example, puts the figure at closer to 50,000 based on actual counts from morgues and media reports.

Johns Hopkins and the Lancet pulled a similar stunt two years ago, when they reported casualties at about 100,000 -- again, roughly four times what Iraq Body Count was reporting.

The timing on this is certainly interesting -- less than a month before a major U.S. election where the war on terror is a key issue.

I would think if you wanted to hijack an election by telling lies you'd at least want to make the lies believeable.

But then, I don't do stuff like that, so I wouldn't know.